President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Health and Human Services Administration, Georgia Rep. Tom Price, is one more indication that not a single word that comes out of Trump’s mouth can be believed. It is also yet another sign that his administration will be an unfolding horror show of the most extremist right-wing hucksters intent on dismantling America’s safety net and moral standing in the world.
Price is an ultra-conservative Tea Partying congressman and orthopedic surgeon who has been at the forefront of the fight to dismantle Obamacare ever since the Affordable Care Act came into being. Remember, just a few short weeks ago, Trump met with President Obama and said afterward that he might keep at least aspects of Obamacare after all. Not with Price as his pointman.
As chair of the House Budget Committee, Price opposed the ACA rabidly, claiming, “Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration blatantly ignored the voices of the American people and rammed through a hyperpartisan piece of legislation that will have a disastrous effect on our nation’s health care system,” according to the New York Times.
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Little surprise that the foregone conclusions he predicted have proven true at least in his mind.
“Premiums have gone up, not down. Many Americans lost the health coverage they were told time and time again by the president that they could keep. Choices are fewer,” he told the Times.
His alternative, the misleadingly named Empowering Patients First Act, is the usual privatizer’s combination of tax credits and health savings accounts, an absurd concept for the poor and the struggling middle class. Those with pre-existing conditions merit nary a mention in his plan.
But there are even more terrifying reasons to fear the notion of Price running the huge health and social service bureaucracy with a close to $1 trillion budget that is supposed to serve not just doctors but patients—in other words, the public. Price is keen, along with Paul Ryan, to dismantle Medicare, and recently told Talking Points Memo this goal might be accomplished in six to eight months. (Because, first Obamacare.)
He has also supported efforts to block funding for Planned Parenthood, spreading outright lies about the services it provides. And he is a critic of the Supreme Court decision guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage, not on medical grounds (since there are none), but because that’s who he is.
Senator Charles Schumer called the potential appointment of Price to head the HHS “akin to asking the fox to guard the henhouse.” He told the Times: “Congressman Price has proven to be far out of the mainstream of what Americans want when it comes to Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood. Thanks to those three programs, millions of American seniors, families, people with disabilities and women have access to quality, affordable health care.”